Governor Tina Kotek, Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler each declared a 90-day state of emergency to address the public health and public safety crisis driven by fentanyl in Portland’s Central City. The tri-government fentanyl emergency declarations follow a recommendation put forward by the Portland Central City Task Force , unveiled at the Oregon Business Leadership Summit late last year.
“Our country and our state have never seen a drug this deadly and addictive, and all are grappling with how to respond,” Governor Kotek said. “The Chair, the Mayor and I recognize the need to act with urgency and unity across our public health and community safety systems to make a dent in this crisis. We are all in this together. The next 90 days will yield unprecedented collaboration and focused resources targeting fentanyl and provide a roadmap for next steps.”
All three emergency orders direct the City, State, and County to commit available resources to the unified response. A command center will be stood up in the central city where state, county and city employees will convene to coordinate strategies and response efforts. Each level of government has identified an incident commander who will be responsible for coordinating resources from the jurisdiction they represent. They are as follows: Nathan Reynolds, Deputy Chief of Policy and Mission Support at the Office of Resilience and Emergency Management for the state, former Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines for the County, and Mike Myers, Director of the Community Safety Division for the City.
The Command Center will serve to refocus existing resources. It will also share and publicly report data on the impacts of fentanyl in downtown, use data to identify and respond to acute needs and gaps in service, identify any specific resources necessary to address gaps, and establish a system to coordinate that can be sustained beyond the 90-day startup period.
”If you or a loved one is struggling with a fentanyl addiction, we hear you, we see you and we are taking this crisis seriously,” Chair Jessica Vega Pederson said. “We are acting with shared leadership to take urgent action today to respond to the very human toll fentanyl takes in our community, including overdoses, fatalities and day-to-day suffering, and the fear so many families are experiencing as a result.”
At the state level, resources will be deployed from the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) of Office Resilience and Emergency Management (OREM), the Oregon Department of Emergency Management (OEM), the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and the Oregon State Police (OSP).
Multnomah County will marshal and direct resources from the Health Department , County Human Services , Community Justice , County Assets , Joint Office of Homeless Services , and Emergency Management and our network of partners and providers. Through coordinated outreach, the County will work to prevent exposure and use of fentanyl; reduce harm among people using substances; and increase access to outreach, treatment, recovery, and housing services.
The Health Department will launch two public education campaigns during the 90-day emergency featuring transit, billboards, digital media, streaming audio, and more. These highly-visible messages will promote prevention among youth and the effectiveness of recovery in transforming lives, and reduce stigma for treatment.
The County will also increase the visibility and coordination of County contractors conducting outreach on the streets, distribute and train partners on the use of Narcan and issue reports on overdose data. Targeted outreach will leverage services from the downtown Behavioral Health Resource Center. The center—strategically located in the Central City— will offer immediate access to day services and improve connection to care.
City of Portland will deploy providing public safety, addiction and public health services, crisis response, and other resources and services to those impacted by the fentanyl crisis.
Specifically, a combination of disciplines will be coordinated and deployed including peer outreach, and behavioral and public health services to move individuals experiencing a fentanyl addiction into treatment and provide other stabilization services, as well as continued missions between the Portland Police Bureau and Oregon State Police to hold individuals selling the drug accountable.
“I am pleased to have Governor Kotek and Chair Vega Pederson join the City of Portland’s ongoing efforts to address the deadly fentanyl crisis impacting our community. Today, we move forward with urgency to address these challenges together under the authority of emergency declarations. This is exactly the type of coordinated action needed to make a direct impact and a lasting difference,” Mayor Wheeler said.
Because personal health care data and other protected information will be accessed and exchanged by authorized personnel in order to carry the emergency response in the Command Center, it will not be open to the public.
Editors note: while the command center cannot accommodate members of the public or press due to the nature of their work, state, county and city site commanders will be made available over the course of the 90-day emergency to the media.
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